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Ground Hog Day UX Crazy Style

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ux crazy people

The UX Crazies are so focused on the UI they completely miss the point.

This year UX has really grown up. We have had convergence, gamification, tablets, internet TV, handheld scanners (and all manner of devices) and now we are truly in the Pervasive UX territory.

The UX community has really come together and it is all about collaboration and working towards a UX Manifesto as well as better credentials and education.

The Creative Age has started and with it Disruption.

Even after a year full of progress and it can still seem like you are right back where you started from. In my case it is dealing with those old, wacky UX Crazies again.

UI is not UX.

This relentless focus on the end deliverables and confusing it with UI completely misses the point.

One of the biggest challenges is changing the misconception in organisations that  User Experience [UX] is about producing a user interface [UI]. It is not. It is a “value proposition”. It is far greater than the sum of the deliverables.

You cannot tell what good is by merely looking at something. It must be tested and measured. UX is not a form page or a single web page. You cannot compare web pages to illustrate what good UX is. That is only the UI.

This misunderstanding has come from the roots of UX. Most UX people started out as Information Architects (others designers or developers) where we created deliverables such as site maps, wireframes, usability test reports, prototypes and personas. This was one “cog in the machine” and the next step was handing these off to designers & developers to complete the process.

We have done a great job at selling in the need for these IA deliverables. These deliverables are still  relevant to communicating the user experience  but this is also where the problem lies. It is no longer about the deliverables. The old notions of IA/UI development are now way past their sell by date. It is about the total user experience and having measurable results.

The User Centric nature of User Experience provides companies with a view from the outside looking in. Almost all the other rolls BAs, developers, clients, technical architects are looking at the internal workings.

The Pillars of the User Experience

  • User Experience Strategy: This is not the same as digital strategy as user experiences are more pervasive
  • User Experience Research
  • User Experience Design: This includes emotional factors, brand experiences, creative and conceptual models
  • User Experience Architecture

 

I have left UX Development off the list as development happens in the delivery cycle. It is of course important to consider and make sure sure there are inputs from development just as you would the technical architecture, business strategy, digital strategy, business analysis and the market forces.

The UX  is about getting to a UX  road map to then inform the development team who will be responsible for taking the vision and developing the user interfaces for the various devices.

The upfront UX needs to be thoroughly thought out and also light weight in terms of the amount of  to avoid being Big Design Up Front or BDUF if working in Agile.

 

UX development has had a big change too and the main one is that it is not about HTML and building webpages. The world has moved on. Development is about having specialists that know how to transform the UX blue print into code for the various devices – browsers, tablets, mobile, handheld PDAs and so on.

The UX  is about getting to a UX  road map to then inform the development team who will be responsible for taking the vision and developing the user interfaces for the various devices.

Developing experiences that are appropriate for various types of media and platforms needs to be done by specialists who’s day job it is to program and write development code. This may be multiple developers who have device specializations. It is not a roll for a UX designer who dabbles in a bit of code. The experience will always be compromised by the person who’s job it is to deliver the code.

This may not even be about devices. It could also be back end technologies or CMS systems. There are many incidents where the UX was changed or had to be compromised because the people implementing it did not have the necessary skills or experience. It is important to have the experts brought in at the beginning and to keep continuity by continuing to provide guidance and steer the project.

Explore and constantly evolve the target audience

This is about getting to know the intended users but also looking  at potential influencers. Too often the focus is just on the primary consumer of the product or service. In fashion for example because brands tend to be aspirational the wider community have a lot of influence. Therefore you need to include non-consumers in your target audience such as the bloggers, journalists, fashion students etc. Ideally delivering a brand experience should be consistent. This is also the shift towards pervasive UX in which I used an example of my hotel stay. My experience changed when I was no longer a buyer.

User Experience is about building the values of the brand into the entire experience. The whole design experience is about creating a language to deliver the brand message in an engaging and purposeful way. It is not about window dressing.

Dream big. Imagine all the possibilities

UX is about the divergence and convergence of concepts (ideas, principals, goals, aspirations), framework (IA, structures, mental models, scenarios) and the high level design (emotional factors, persuasion, personality, branding, visuals).


Mind the Gap. UX needs to build a bridge between what the system and business must deliver and what the end user expects.

Goals Concept

UX considers the goals, aspirations, dreams ambiltions and the purpose of the end user or consumer

There are consequences for poor UX. On internally facing IT systems the consequences are often ignored because they require work to figure out how bad the damage is.  Having users spend extra minutes or making repeated errors while trying to complete tasks is not seen as a big problem. However if some one were to say calculate that total and say that it was costing the company over a £1 million in lost revenue a year then it would be a huge problem.

Pervasive design is about looking at the entire journey of the end user and helping to uncover unmet needs as well potential business opportunities.

User Experience Practitioners perform user research to get into the mind of end user (and consumers).  The primary purpose is to ensure the proposed solution is fit for purpose and will meet the user needs for usability. That is a given now. What is not widely subscribed to is that this research can be used to gain competitor advantage and also exploit new opportunities that may come as a result.  User research is a lot more than validating user experiences for usability and informing design decisions.  User Research when combined with prototyping can be the new R&D department or create a road map of future business opportunities.

This is about designing a user experience across all touch points of the brand or product.

Pervasive UX goes further than the screens it is the complete end to end journey – which may include multiple devices and tasks. Whether you call this service design or process re-engineering it is core part of creating the UX.

“Every design decision… contributes to the behaviour of the masses, and helps define the culture of our society. This describes an enormous opportunity for designers, one that is rarely realized. We are, quite literally, building the culture around us; arguably, our effect is larger and more immediate than even policy decisions of our own government. We are responsible for both the positive and negative repercussions of our design decisions, and these decisions have monumental repercussions.”  Joh Kolko

Aligning the needs of the user to the functional system and influencing the priority of requirements

With an understanding of the pain points of users and what they need and desire you can assign these values and align them to the plan for the roll out of features. Too often it overlooks how simple it is to add value and make improvements and avoid costly features that users do not need or want. When the business goals and the user goals are merged  along with the “workstack” it provides a much more joined up approach to delivery and the team is working as one and not at cross purposes.

Providing general consulting skills on user behaviours

UX practitioners are constantly keeping up to date with latest trends in online and digital behavior on everything from devices to the latest big thing like Pinterest. This knowledge can be used stimulate and generate ideas to better engage with end users.

So where do we go from here

This is about continuing to share knowledge and collaborate. As Daniel Pink says there has never been a better time to be a designer or creative thinker.

Pervasive design is about the bigger picture not the small stuff.

It would be great to get past Ground Hog Day and say good-bye to the UX Crazies once and for all. However that is looking more and more unlikely as I have witnessed a entrenched reluctance to join the party.

At least I have a big UX network to help me keep my sanity and tonight I am very much looking forward to discussing Pervasive UX tonight with Brian Hoadley.

The UX Crazies can stay forever in ground hog day. Time to leave them in a trail of dust.

Thanks for reading please share or leave a comment!

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